Writers Guild Awards

For the films of 2013
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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby ITALIANO » Sun Feb 16, 2014 12:13 pm

Sonic Youth wrote:Hah! Marco, I would've bet that Her would be the acclaimed American movie you'd unleash your wrath upon. I'm disappointed. A BIT juvenile? You sure you're not pulling your punches? If Her - a celebration of sociophobia - is an accurate portrayal of the psyche of late-Generation X and Generation Y, then I feel very sad... but not anywhere near as sad as the film itself, which fetishizes its lugubriousness.



I don't know if it fetishizes it - but it certainly doesn't condemn it openly, which I actually find kind of intriguing. Of course you and I aren't part of that generation, and I guess that Jonze isn't either - still at times it looks as if it was made by someone who's part of it, which of course means that his isn't an especially profound approach. Still, I must admit that for example when I had for a while a long-distance relationship and my phone was the only connection I could have to that person - and that voice - I shared some aspects with the Joaquin Phoenix character in this movie. (Phoenix is very good in it by the way).

Plus, I've been accused recently of being out-of-sync with the typical Oscar movies, and I'm trying to be less intolerant. (And I repeat, I saw it the day after Saving Mr Banks...).

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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby Sonic Youth » Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:48 am

Hah! Marco, I would've bet that Her would be the acclaimed American movie you'd unleash your wrath upon. I'm disappointed. A BIT juvenile? You sure you're not pulling your punches? If Her - a celebration of sociophobia - is an accurate portrayal of the psyche of late-Generation X and Generation Y, then I feel very sad... but not anywhere near as sad as the film itself, which fetishizes its lugubriousness.
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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby ITALIANO » Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:40 am

I thought I had to see Her in order to make a clear prediction on this Oscar race. Now I have seen it - and I still don't know. I mean, I would personally vote for Nebraska and - between Her and American Hustle - for Her. Not because Her is a masterpiece - though, seen right after Saving Mr Banks, it definitely looks like one - but because it is I think a more personal, deeply-felt work of writing. Of course deeply-felt doesn't necessarily mean deep, and Her still feels, like too many movies today, American movies especially, a bit... juvenile. It deals with important issues, issues which are very human and very contemporary, but does so in a very unchallenging, very soft way. And the central idea - while good - can't really sustain a two-hours movie. Still, it's sincere, and one feels that the emotions it portrays may not be too complex but are quite honest. In an era when a movie about Lego is considered by some an important creative effort, Her at least has SOME content.

But I'm not a member of the Academy. And American Hustle is exactly the kind of movie which often wins the Original Screenplay Oscar - because it has an intricate plot (that it doesn't always deal successfully with it may not be a big problem), some "smart" lines, good roles for its (many) actors, and because this could be the only place to honor both the movie and its much-liked director.

So if I had to bet, I'd bet on American Hustle. But I'd know I could lose.

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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:28 pm

Greg wrote:
rolotomasi99 wrote:This account of attending the Writers Guild Awards ceremony is both amusing and sad.

http://defamer.gawker.com/stupid-also-r ... 1515278863


The WGA ceremony serves "watermelon covered in a dollop of white sauce." The Oscar Governor's Ball serves gold-foil wrapped baked potatoes stuffed with osetra caviar and crème fraiche. I think this says it all.


It's a little unfair to compare a wan appetizer to a lush side dish. This entry seems a bit more representative of the dismal affair:

"With 30 minutes left in the ceremony and an empty bottle of tequila in front of him, everyone in the room but Russell, who spent more than a few minutes napping in his chair, knew he'd be losing to Spike Jonze."

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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby Greg » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:16 pm

rolotomasi99 wrote:This account of attending the Writers Guild Awards ceremony is both amusing and sad.

http://defamer.gawker.com/stupid-also-r ... 1515278863


The WGA ceremony serves "watermelon covered in a dollop of white sauce." The Oscar Governor's Ball serves gold-foil wrapped baked potatoes stuffed with osetra caviar and crème fraiche. I think this says it all.
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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby Okri » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:36 pm

Mister Tee wrote:
Okri wrote: I can't explain The Pianist's victory. That, more than Polanski or Brody, was the WTF moment of the 2002 oscars.

Well, coming off WGA, the favorite was The Hours -- and even someone as un-wild about The Pianist as I would reluctantly agree to that switch. Adaptation obviously had a good deal of popularity in certain circles, but it wasn't a best picture or best director nominee, and never seemed to me to be in the running.


Hmm.... If I recall thinking that The Hours was going to take it - it was about a writer, had that tryptich structure, but it was definitely a soft frontrunner. But I thought Chicago was more likely in the event of a sweep. And I thought Adaptation might take it as well - it was also writerly and the actors went for it. I had The Pianist comfortably in fourth. Of course, that night was pretty surprising.

As for American Hustle, I certainly wouldn't put it out of contention, but I'm not sure to what extent I "believe" the critics victories. We're talking what generally seem to be multi-round wars of attrition here.

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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:24 pm

flipp525 wrote:Also, I'm not sure why you're singling me out. Go back to the American Hustle thread and re-read other posters' thoughts because I'm certainly not the only person who was underwhelmed by the screenplay. Even in this thread, Oscar Guy had similar thoughts.

I assume you simply misread me. The reason I singled you out is because you were the only one who said he liked the film who took that view of the script; all the others were people who didn't like the film in general, so I didn't see why their opinions of the script should be considered germane or equivalent to those, at critics' groups and in AMPAS, who voted the film awards and nominations (including for screenplay).

I'm one of the multi-thousands who was supposed to take a plane flight today, so I'm busy trying to resolve that situation and don't have time to write any major defense of the American Hustle script (and, should I get successfully on board, I'll be Internet-inaccessible for a few days). If anyone still cares by next week, I'll address the subject then.

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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby Sonic Youth » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:50 pm

OscarGuy wrote:While I can see where Rolo's arguments are coming from, there's something else that I think might affect the outcome. I haven't seen Her, so someone who has can validate this, but I'm fairly certain Her has stronger, more likable characters.


Some would say that.

I'd think people are responding to Her because it's far more personal, sincere and it takes a premise that could have been milked dry or played for derisive laughs but is instead credibly developed, surprisingly so. Maybe the characters are more likeable since they're not criminals, but I didn't find appealing or interesting. I expect to be in the minority, though. Actually, I hated Her. But it is an achievement.
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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby OscarGuy » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:24 pm

While I can see where Rolo's arguments are coming from, there's something else that I think might affect the outcome. I haven't seen Her, so someone who has can validate this, but I'm fairly certain Her has stronger, more likable characters. They are people you want to see happy and successful. American Hustle on the other hand, you have five relatively unlikable major characters (SPOILERS AHEAD), three get "happy" endings, two don't and I didn't really care. I thought Christian Bale's character should have gone down, Amy Adams I was ok with getting out of things and Jennifer Lawrence was hell of a hoot, but she could have lived or died and either would have been a suitable ending (matter of fact, it was that segment of the film where I thought for sure we were going the traditional mafia route and have her killed off). Bradley Cooper didn't get a happy ending, he gets the most miserable one, but he's the one character I thought deserved a happy ending. He may not have been a great guy, the way he treats his girlfriend is atrocious, but overall, he merely wanted to take down bad guys. Overambitious, sure, but a bad person, not necessarily. Jeremy Renner's character is the only one I really felt they got right in the end. Here's a guy who did it for his family and for the pepole of New Jersey getting busted and jail time for doing good things. He just did them crookedly.

So, my question is do you think the Academy will feel the same way and choose to honor a screenplay that makes the viewer care about the characters or one that is great fun, but ultimately unrewarding? At least that's how I feel about it.
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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby rolotomasi99 » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:22 pm

This account of attending the Writers Guild Awards ceremony is both amusing and sad.

http://defamer.gawker.com/stupid-also-r ... 1515278863

I would have given anything to see the look on David O. Russell's face when Spike Jonze's name was called. I imagine it looked something like this.

http://cdn2.mocksession.com/wp-content/ ... -LOSER.gif
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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby flipp525 » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:46 am

Mister Tee wrote:I strongly dispute the "even fans of American Hustle think the script is weak" contention. flipp aside, I'm mostly hearing this from people who DIDN'T like the movie, and are projecting their view as more widespread. As BJ points out, the film won screenplay in NY and finished third at the National Society, so some fairly influential people think quite highly of it (in both cases rating it higher than her, in fact).

Mister Tee wrote:Characteristically, I'm with BJ: I think her has a definite shot at winning this, but I'm not willing to dismiss American Hustle out of hand, the way many appear to be (wishfully?) doing.

I'm not "wishfully" doing anything, Mister Tee. Just pointing out the Emperor with No Clothes here.

American Hustle's script is its weakest element. I liked the movie (for the most part) but I didn't think the characters were written with enough complexity. Several actors were able to overcome this with compelling performances (including the rarely mentioned Elisabeth Röhm who infuses a barely-on-the-page character with something quite special ultimately making her one of the film's standouts). Amy Adams threads into her performance some significant shading to compensate for what I see are some inconsistencies in the writing of her character but really, even she can't bring out a magic wand.

The structure of the film doesn't cohere on a basic plot level. If you're going to start a film in medias res, for example, take me to someplace new once I get back to that same scene in real time. By the time we reach the same event again, there's really almost nothing new we haven't deduced about the characters that didn't already appear in that first scene. Another immediate concrete example I'd point to as flimsy is the Goodfellas-lite style Christian Bale narration which goes in and out of the film until (if I recall correctly) it's picked back up at the end to no great effect. You're, of course, welcome to counter with points in the script that you found brilliant and/or Oscar worthy. I'll wait.

Also, I'm not sure why you're singling me out. Go back to the American Hustle thread and re-read other posters' thoughts because I'm certainly not the only person who was underwhelmed by the screenplay. Even in this thread, Oscar Guy had similar thoughts.

Sabin had this say in the American Hustle thread: "I saw the film with a reader for Focus Features who read the original draft and is sending it to me. She feels loyalty to the original writer's vision."

Sabin, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the original draft of the film if you've had a chance to read it. I'm assuming it's a superior version to what made the final cut.
Last edited by flipp525 on Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby rolotomasi99 » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:21 am

FilmFan720 wrote:As for the comedy issue, the point that I was trying to make is that the Oscars have not had a pattern of awarding comedies (and since I don't think her is an all-out laughfest I don't know why we are debating this).


That was the entire point of my original post you replied to! HER is very humorous, but in a general quirky way like MOONRISE KINGDOM rather than big comedic set-pieces and funny dialogue like SIDEWAYS. That is why I feel the Academy will not give it the Oscar for Original Screenplay. As in pretty much every category, "more" is usually rewarded over "best." The films that are loudest win sound, the films with the most cuts win editing, the brightest costumes, the biggest sets, etc. The same with screenplays. Something that makes people laugh heartily (rather than just bemuse) will win, or something that makes them cry (rather than just contemplate) will win.

I know people keep pointing to ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND as proof that something quirky can win, but that movie (which is my favorite film of all time) has those big comedic moments that really stick out in people's memory (such as Jim Carrey's character being bathed in a sink by an oversized version of his mother). HER just does not have those moments. Much of the film is just long scenes of Joaquin Phoenix's character chatting with Samantha. While I found these conversations riveting (both because of the great writing and the great performances), they are not exactly the big moments Oscar winning screenplays usually have.

It seems people's personal feelings about the two films are influencing opinions on which has a better shot at winning the Oscar. For full disclosure, HER is my fifth favorite film of the year, while AMERICAN HUSTLE is just outside of my top 10. I think HER is the best screenplay of all 10 screenplay nominees. However, it is just too subtle for the Academy, and AMERICAN HUSTLE is just too much like the type of screenplay they love to recognize. I feel like I am being as objective as possible when I say AMERICAN HUSTLE will win Original Screenplay. I would love for another TALK TO HER type surprise (though the W.G.A. win would make this one less surprising), but I just have such little faith in the majority of the Academy to recognize the delicate beauty of HER.
Last edited by rolotomasi99 on Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby OscarGuy » Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:38 am

I don't know why we're suddenly catapulting the Golden Globe Comedy/Musical Picture category into the forefront of big prizes one can win. Until the days of ten best pictures, it was a rarity for that winner even to get a Best Picture nomination and more rare for it to win. Using that as an example of a major award that could lead to a Best Original Screenplay win is even more bizarre. I'm not dismissing NYFCC entirely, nor am I applying added weight to their selection. Until the 2000's, they did a bang-up job predicting winners. After that, Gosford Park, Sideways, No Country for Old Men. Those figures don't really support NYFCC being afforded such a vaunted position as a barometer.

Also, I did ask "where has it really been well loved from the guilds." I didn't ask about critics because I already knew that answer. Here and there, but not everywhere. As for the guilds, it won Best Cast at SAG and nothing else so far. It will win the ACE this coming weekend. Of that I have little doubt. Perhaps it will win at CDG and ADG, but that will be it. If it loses all three, would you still consider the film such a frontrunner?

As for the list of directors you listed. I will agree, that would seem to presage a win. However, looking over those names, only one of those was within the last decade and Payne has been equally acclaimed as a great screenwriter and a great director. Russell, I'm dubious to that belief. Has anyone really equated him to a great screenwriter? Furthermore, the examples you listed, Campion, Jordan, Tarantino, Coens, Hanson and Payne ALL won the WGA awards. I'd also hazard to say (I don't have time to research it) that all of them were dominating the precursors. I'm including The Piano in that because although Schindler's List was dominating back then, I remember The Piano performing far better than anyone ever expected with the precursors (It won LAFCA, NYFCC and NSFC screenplay trophies, now that's a significant haul).

At this point, though, we're just going to produce example after counter-example supporting our beliefs and we won't know who's right for another month. By then, things may entirely have changed. Things have died down lately, so it's possible that something different enters the conversation. I am beginning to see this as a possible redux of 1972, much like last year was similar to 1971.
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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby Reza » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:43 am

The Original BJ wrote: you're not winning Picture/Director, here's a bone with the screenplay prize.

For the record, I would rather see Her win Best Original Screenplay than American Hustle.


Your ''bone'' formula sort of also applies to Spike Jonze this year.

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Re: Writers Guild Awards

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:37 am

Yeah, we're definitely just reading the tea leaves differently.

In no way am I saying that the NY crix screenplay prize is the DGA when it comes to Oscar predictiveness, but to dismiss it as a fluke award that means nothing seems strange to me. That fact that the major critics' group that gave it a Best Picture prize ALSO gave it Best Screenplay seems pretty solid evidence that many people who like the movie also like the screenplay.

And furthermore, the "American Hustle hasn't been honored anywhere" argument also strikes me as perplexing. It won 3 Golden Globes including Best Picture, the SAG Ensemble prize, and -- not insignificantly -- it LEADS the Oscar nominations. I don't think it will win Best Picture, but to me, in a year when prizes have been split all over the place, that looks like a pretty solid base of support.

I guess I'd view a possible Russell screenplay win in the same vein as wins for Neil Jordan, Jane Campion, Quentin Tarantino, the Coen brothers, Curtis Hanson, and Alexander Payne -- you're not winning Picture/Director, here's a bone with the screenplay prize.

For the record, I would rather see Her win Best Original Screenplay than American Hustle.


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